hit the fan

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English[edit]

Etymology[edit]

This expression is almost certainly from colloquial expressions involving shit hitting the fan.

Verb[edit]

hit the fan (third-person singular simple present hits the fan, present participle hitting the fan, simple past and past participle hit the fan)

  1. (idiomatic, intransitive) To have a dramatic, usually negative, effect.
    They were just clowning around, when suddenly it all hit the fan.
    Then the shit really hit the fan.
    • 2004 December 2, Neal Cavuto, “Interview With Jeff Flake”:
      Let me ask you, Congressman, the case of a lot of these corporate scandals, I followed enough of them to know how -- how it works out. Once everything starts hitting the fan, the CEO, the chairman or maybe a large share of the board of directors simply leaves, resigns

Usage notes[edit]

  • Use with other subjects than shit is probably intended to evoke the image without actually saying the taboo (in some contexts) word.

Related terms[edit]